A first for Dakatcha

Press release: Kilifi’s unique Elephant-shrew photographed for the first time north of Sabaki River

The Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew Rhynchocyon chrysopygus, also known as a sengi, is a species only found in Kilifi county, Kenya and is considered Globally Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Neither elephant nor shrew, it is the size of a rabbit and gets its name from its long, flexible trunk-like nose, which is uses to probe for earthworms, millipedes, beetles and termites in the leaf litter. It exists only in remnants of the dry coastal forest that originally stretched from Somalia to Mozambique, such as the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Gede Ruins. But just recently, it has been photographed for the first time in the Dakatcha Woodland, north of the Sabaki River, using a camera trap set by A Rocha Kenya’s conservation team. The scientists are surveying wildlife in the A Rocha Dakatcha Nature Reserve, Marafa, which has been created specifically to protect threatened species like the Endangered Sokoke Scops Owl Otus irenae, Africa’s smallest owl.

‘It is wonderful to confirm the presence of this unique species in the Dakatcha Woodlands north of the Sabaki river. Dakatcha is known for its rare birds but photographing the Golden-rumped Sengi in the A Rocha Reserve, makes Dakatcha all the more important for conservation. This species and its forest habitat should be celebrated and protected as much as possible by all of us living in this county.’ Colin Jackson, Director of A Rocha Kenya

Dakatcha Woodland is undergoing a rapid change which threatens its future. Illegal logging, charcoal burning and the expansion of unmanaged pineapple plantations are destroying and degrading this unique forest habitat. A Rocha, alongside other conservation partners, is helping to preserve this landscape against irreversible damage through land purchase, research, environmental education in churches and schools and by engaging local community members.

‘I am so proud to have confirmed the presence of this endemic species near my home.’ Samson Katisho, Community mobilizer, Mulunguni, Dakatcha Woodlands

There is little doubt that local people have witnessed the Golden-rumped Sengi in Dakatcha for many years but confirming its presence through photographic evidence will give it further recognition in the science world. A Rocha encourages the Kilifi county government to recognize the global value of its biodiversity and to include it as an integral part of the county’s development plans.

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